According to a recent report, Toyota Motor Corp. faces more than 320 lawsuits in federal and state courts related to its sudden acceleration problems. This report was filed on May 1st with U.S. District Judge James Selna. Lawyers for the Plaintiffs and Toyota listed 228 federal cases and 99 related cases in state courts. As reported last month, a judicial panel consolidated the federal cases in April before Judge Selna. Judge Selna’s court is in Orange County, California, near Los Angeles, and is close to Toyota’s U.S. headquarters.
It has been estimated that if Toyota were to settle the cases for even a modest payout to affected motorists, it could cost the company at least $3 billion and possibly much more. In comparison, drug maker Merck & Co. paid more than $4.8 billion into a settlement fund for tens of thousands of claims from folks who used its withdrawn painkiller Vioxx. That was a case in which our firm was one of the lead law firms that participated in the negotiation of the settlement. That was a monumental undertaking and ended with a great result. Toyota already has paid a record $16.4 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which at the time linked 52 deaths to acceleration problems.
The lawsuits started to be filed last fall as Toyota initiated the first of a series of recalls eventually involving about 8 million vehicles – including about 6 million in the U.S. – over acceleration problems in several models and brake issues with the popular Prius hybrid. Toyota claimed that the acceleration problems were caused by faulty floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals. But our lawyers believe there is a defect with Toyota’s electronic throttle control system. Toyota denies that.
Source: Associated Press
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